Choosing the right mic for live performances is not always an easy task. There are so many on the market, and each of them can be suited to different parts of the band. As a result, it can get confusing pretty quickly – especially if you aren’t sure what you need in the first place.
Before looking at the how to guide below, there are two factors you should always remember when selecting your mic: go with your gut, and go with your budget. If you like the way the mic sounds, go for it. However, sticking to your budget is also important as it can help narrow down your choices.
How to Choose a Mic: Vocals
Cardioid polar patterns will help to control feedback, as well as reduce ambient sound. However, in the case of a tight stage, it might be worth considering a supercardioid polar pattern.
Most of the mics for vocals that are close-up have a similar frequency response. This features a roll-off of the extreme high and low-end frequencies that are outside the regular vocal range. There also tends to be a boosted mid-range
Choosing dynamic cartridges means that it is less likely for components to fail, and they don’t require phantom power either. Condenser mics, however, do require phantom power – but these are good for brighter sounds with extended highs.
Generally speaking, the more money you spend on a vocal mic, the less handling noise and breath feedback you are likely to experience.
How to Choose a Mic: Drums
For a drum kit, and all of its parts, the cardioid and supercardioid polar patterns are the best for feedback control and sound isolation.
If you are using floor toms and kick drum and snare, mics that have a shaped frequency are the best ones to use, as these add a little punch. Overhead cymbals and hi-hats will benefit greatly from mics with a uniform response that is commonly referred to as a flat frequency response.
Dynamic mics are best for kick drums and snares due to the fact that they can handle high sound pressure levels. Condenser microphones, on the other hand, are able to deliver a lot more snap – just choose a condenser that can take the high SPLs.
How to Choose a Mic: Guitar and Bass
When it comes to the polar pattern, a cardioid one is the best for isolating sound, as well as controlling any feedback.
The best type of frequency response for guitar and bass amps is a shaped one. This adds presence to the sound, as well as a little brightness.
A dynamic cartridge is the best way to go as these are unlikely to distort under normal sound pressure levels – regardless of where the mic is placed in relation to the amp. It also doesn’t matter how loud the amp is turned up.
Hopefully, this guide has provided you with the right tools to go out and choose the best mic for you. With these tips, you’ll be on stage and sounding amazing in no time at all.
About the Author
Dan Anderson is a freelance writer and blogger. You can keep upto date by following Dan on Twitter and Facebook. If you are interested in reading more of his music and audio related content, be sure to check out his audio guides here .